2015 is finally here, and the Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP) is continuing its mission to help the Lakota tribes of South Dakota. For years, the government of South Dakota has willfully ignored the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by removing Indian children away from their families, tribes, and culture.
Rather than attempt to make South Dakota follow ICWA, LPLP has discovered another and more efficient solution: having the federal government directly fund the Lakota so that these tribes may create their own Child and Family Service Agencies.
Having a foster care system for Lakota and by Lakota would prevent the illegal removal of Lakota children from their homes and would ensure that these children grow up in a safe environment allowing them to retain their unique culture, language and heritage. As these children are the future of their tribes, it is right that the Lakota tribes themselves take care of these children.
Tribes such as Standing Rock, Rosebud, and Oglala have received grants that will allow them to begin the process of qualifying to receive direct federal funding.
Standing Rock, in fact, has already completed its first quarter tasks and has undertook historic steps to be economically self-sufficient in 15 years, due to the indispensable help of Lakota People’s Law Project and A Positive Tomorrow.
Not all of the tribes have received grants, however, as the Baucus bill only allows five tribes a year to receive funding from the Title IV-E program. Thus, LPLP has met with high ranking officials in the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Health and Human Services in an attempt to convince them to fund the remaining five tribes — Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Flandreau and Yankton.
LPLP continues to be in conversation with these officials to convey the urgency of having South Dakota’s tribes prepare for direct federal funding in concert so they can address issues, share resources and save taxpayer dollars.
We remain steadfast in our goal that these remaining tribes will receive supplemental grants and the funding they need by 2016.
Meanwhile, LPLP will create Organizing Support Programs to help support tribal planning programs to assist in the complex implementation of the planning grants and their attendant 18-month deadline.
Another critical goal in 2015 is to increase the national visibility of issues pertinent to the Lakota people and all Indian people in the United States.
LPLP will continue to release more reports including an upcoming one on unequal protection under the law for Indians. LPLP will continue to investigate further into issues such as police brutality against Natives, the pharmaceutical abuse of Lakota children in foster care, human trafficking, and the impact of environmental issues on Lakota land.
We will also continue to bring awareness to the public through our Facebook page, which currently has about 150,000 followers (a figure we hope will double this year). This blog is yet another instrument in bringing to light the problems of structural injustice that continue to afflict the Lakota and other indigenous nations.
LPLP also has 50,000 signatures on a petition to be placed in front of President Barack Obama, asking him to help bring the Lakota children home and to help the Lakota tribes create their own Child and Family Service Agencies. It is our hope that we will gain 100,000 signatures in the coming months.
LPLP looks forward to a successful year and will strive to make all of our goals a reality. As always, thank you for your support. It is impossible to achieve such progress alone.